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  • On the 'conversion' of Jews: The new Vatican statement | Catholic Culture
    the other hand he is in the light of the Christian faith himself God the Son and he transcends time history and every earthly reality The community of those who believe in him confesses his divinity cf Phil 2 6 11 In this sense he is perceived to be in discontinuity with the history that prepared his coming From the perspective of the Christian faith he fulfils the mission and expectation of Israel in a perfect way 14 For these reasons dialogue between Jews and Christians cannot proceed as if these are two fundamentally diverse religions which developed independently or without mutual influence Moreover while it is certainly true that the Church is the new people of God the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures 23 quoted from Nostra Aetate 4 Ultimately God does not lie and He is always faithful The covenant that God offered Israel is irrevocable and God s elective fidelity is never repudiated In this light any Christian effort to separate the two covenants rejecting the Old Testament while retaining only the New is a grave error This is why Marcion was excommunicated in AD 144 Again there is a deep mystery in the relationship between the covenants in the relationship between Judaism and Christianity and in the relationship between Jews and Gentiles As St Paul wrote Just as you Gentile Christians were once disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience so they have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may receive mercy Rm 11 30 31 The new document strongly affirms that this is a mystery that we cannot fully plumb Here we confront the mystery of God s work which is not a matter of missionary efforts to convert Jews but rather the expectation that the Lord will bring about the hour when we will all be united 37 Avoiding Errors But the text also cautions against two key errors First there are not two different but parallel ways of salvation for Christians and Jews The Church and Judaism cannot be represented as two parallel ways to salvation but the Church must witness to Christ as the Redeemer for all The Christian faith confesses that God wants to lead all people to salvation that Jesus Christ is the universal mediator of salvation and that there is no other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved Acts 4 12 35 Second Jews are in fact called to membership in the Church The people of God attains a new dimension through Jesus who calls his Church from both Jews and Gentiles cf Eph 2 11 22 on the basis of faith in Christ and by means of baptism through which there is incorporation into his Body which is the Church 41 And It is and remains a qualitative definition of the Church

    Original URL path: http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/articles.cfm?id=663 (2016-02-11)
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  • A case study in the development of doctrine | Catholic Culture
    the souls of the dead In his letters and sermons including the Enchiridion which itself was a response to the questions of one Laurentius Augustine tried to piece together an answer Augustine s statements about the afterlife were marked by cautious reserve He said outright that he was reticent to make the other world too comfortable for believers to give them a sense of safety that he himself did not have In other words however much some of his questioners might have wished he was not about to offer them a magic bullet One idea about the fate of souls in the next world which Augustine discouraged had to do with the image of Christ as emperor popular with the noble class An important imperial virtue in Roman culture was clemency Emperors would sometimes make a show of mercy via acts of amnesty cancelling tax arrears reducing or eliminating sentences If Christ were like an emperor not a few Christians reasoned it might be hoped that he would grant a similar amnesty to sinners in the afterlife This idea was bolstered by such sources as the poet Prudentius and the apocalyptic Vision of Paul in which Paul was said to have had a vision of Christ descending into hell in emperor s garb in order to grant respite from punishment on every Sunday Some even hoped that Christ in His infinite mercy might grant a general amnesty at the Last Judgment Augustine was not happy with such representations of Christ the Judge which were in Brown s words based on the almost whimsical exercise of the imperial prerogative of mercy He wrote in the Enchiridion There is no harm in their thinking if this gives them pleasure that the penalties of the damned are at certain intervals of time somewhat eased But even if these physical punishments were the slightest that can be imagined to perish from the kingdom of God to be alienated from the presence of God to be deprived of the abundance of God s sweetness So great is that punishment that no torments we have ever experienced can be compared to it From pagan patronage to Christian giving Rather than hoping for amnesty Augustine bade his listeners do penance An essential part of this then as today was almsgiving When it came to giving alms though Augustine was not just thinking of the immediate spiritual benefits for the generous It was also one front in his battle against the Pelagians who among other errors advocated renunciation of all wealth Augustine took a stand against this radicalism in part by defending and promoting almsgiving He also found himself engaged in a slow letter by letter and sermon by sermon campaign to change the way his noble hearers thought about giving away money The model of giving inherited from Greco Roman culture is now known by the neologism euergetism nobles were expected to pay for public building projects games festivals and the general improvement of the cities they

    Original URL path: http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/articles.cfm?id=662 (2016-02-11)
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  • Sing of Mary, 3: Living the Rosary | Catholic Culture
    at the incarnation Elizabeth proclaims Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb And why is this granted me that the mother of my Lord should come to me For behold when the voice of your greeting came to my ears the babe in my womb leaped for joy And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord Lk 1 42 45 The third Joyful Mystery is of course the first Christmas the Nativity when Mary s total cooperation with grace brings the Savior into the world So many wondrous things occur at this time that even Mary could not immediately take in their full significance So she kept all these things pondering them in her heart Lk 2 19 just as we should do At the Presentation the sufferings Mary and Joseph had already experienced in the events leading up to the birth of Christ were linked to her profound participation in the sufferings of her Son and given another hint of their redemptive meaning It was Simeon who prophesied Behold this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel and for a sign that is spoken against and a sword will pierce through your own soul also that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed Lk 2 34 35 Simeon s life was fulfilled for as he said in prayer to God mine eyes have seen thy salvation Lk 2 30 The Joyful Mysteries conclude with the Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple another foreshadowing of Mary s and indeed Joseph s participation in Christ s sufferings For his parents sought Him in worry and distress as was only natural but Our Lord still had lessons to teach How is it that you sought me Did you not know that I must be in my Father s house Lk 2 49 Again Mary kept all these things in her heart Lk 2 51 Mary in Other Rosary Mysteries As Our Lord grew and prepared for His public ministry it was Mary who initiated it at the wedding feast at Cana by urging Him to perform His first public miracle The bride and groom had run out of wine for their guests This is commemorated in the second Luminous Mystery The Miracle at Cana Our Lord seems reluctant to set out on this public path which would lead to His death My hour has not yet come Jn 2 4 Nonetheless in perfect trust Mary turns to the servants and says Do whatever He tells you Jn 2 5 and He turns water into wine St John comments This the first of his signs Jesus did at Cana in Galilee and manifested his glory at the behest of His mother Next in chronological order we come to the Sorrowful Mysteries We can certainly imagine that she who stood at the foot of the cross would

    Original URL path: http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/articles.cfm?id=661 (2016-02-11)
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  • The other side of the Francis effect: Hypersensitivity and hysteria? | Catholic Culture
    are profoundly inspiring But there is always what we might call a human cloud around every silver lining The distinctions among personal habit cultural convention ecclesiastical law and Catholic doctrine are not always easy to discern These all intersect in the life of the Church and Pope Francis is better at dramatic gestures than he is at carefully parsing these distinctions to explain what must be retained and what may and even should be altered or jettisoned He is also typically impatient and even dismissive of those who insist on such a careful examination before committing to a new direction To put the matter bluntly Pope Francis is very good at opening the window or pulling the plug but not particularly good at explaining the differences between the bathwater and the Baby 4 An Apparent Emphasis on Worldly Problems There are many good reasons to insist that Pope Francis recognizes the deep spiritual roots of the problems he is most interested in addressing For example his treatment of the instrumentalization of nature in the encyclical Laudato Si was well worth the price of admission the need to read about many particular debatable issues Nonetheless Pope Francis tends to emphasize the visible or material side of widespread human problems poverty unemployment physical violence cultural exclusion lack of medical care human trafficking migration destruction of the environment etc In most cases these are concerns which our modern secular culture still recognizes Therefore perhaps greater traction is possible But he is less prone to emphasize at least in any practical way the far less visible spiritual wreckage which underlies nearly all widespread modern evils The failure to recognize the person as the beloved image of God to be treasured the refusal of personal integrity self mastery and purity and the resulting confusion and hopelessness The results of this spiritual malaise are despair and suicide the treatment of others as objects including pornography sexual license and perversion of every kind the utter emptiness of modern law on matters such as marriage divorce abortion and euthanasia and the destruction of the family which is the greatest single contributor to even the material evils itemized by the Pope Again it is not that we cannot tell that Pope Francis is concerned about all these things But to the doctrinally committed Catholic who believes with all his heart that the common good depends ultimately on a shared moral framework derived from the truth about the human person as revealed by God through both nature in general and Jesus Christ in particular a preoccupation with social problems that are already at least partially recognized by modern governments can seem like fiddling while Rome burns in a very different and ultimately more terrifying spiritual sense A More Faithful Response It is here that the prejudices of American conservatism do contribute to the angst of the Pope s critics Conservatives are noted for their rugged individualism their wariness of social theories and their opposition to using the State to reshape

    Original URL path: http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/articles.cfm?id=660 (2016-02-11)
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  • Francis on Communion: The Pope's deeper questions, and ours | Catholic Culture
    root of the question Pope Francis has raised Our evaluation of such trajectories will always influence the strategies we pursue and so the rules we make During the years of frank hostility between various Christian bodies the whole question of intercommunion was almost reflexively settled in terms of those obvious divisions And without question when the divisions were fresh they were accompanied by a great deal of personal defiance of Christ and His Church even if those in defiance did not see it that way But while some Catholics may still kick at the goad of ecumenism it is or ought to be clear to even the casual observer that Our Lord who prayed so earnestly that all may be one is not pleased by mutual acrimony and condemnation among His disciples when how shall I put it they have been confused by history The Second Vatican Council developed and expounded an important strain of prior Catholic insight when it described the manner in which the goods Our Lord provided for our salvation are found even outside the Catholic Church even though their fullness exists only in the Church which is both their ultimate repository and their necessary guarantor Our understanding of the unfortunate divisions among Christians has grown more sympathetic as our recognition of these goods has increased When we add an increasing awareness of the common enemy Godlessness secularization mutual respect among Christians has grown and with it an increasing desire for unity This desire which can certainly be betrayed by sacrificing truth must obviously be inspired by the Holy Spirit Inescapably then modern Catholic thinkers have reflected more on the implications of the Eucharist as both the aim and the path both the consummation of spiritual progress and its mainspring Back to Pope Francis but with no conclusion In this light I return again to Pope Francis though we must recall throughout this discussion that his remarks were informal off the cuff It is true that in a certain sense sharing means saying that there is no difference between us that we have the same doctrine but do we not have the same Baptism And if we have the same Baptism we should walk together This is my body this is my blood said the Lord do this in memory of me and this is a viaticum that helps us to walk together To your question I respond only with a further question what can I do with my husband so that the Lord s Supper accompanies us as we walk together It is a problem to which each of us should respond Francis then quoted a pastor friend who said We believe that the Lord is present there He is present You believe that the Lord is present So what is the difference Ah these are explanations interpretations The core issue as Pope Francis summarized it is that Life is greater than explanations and interpretations As always Pope Francis desires to free us from the limitations of our own understanding especially as codified in what we might call the shorthand of rules For even when the purpose of a rule is the legitimate promotion of union with God every rule inescapably retains the potential to separate some whom Our Lord desires to see joined One faith one baptism one Lord is the starting point said Pope Francis He confessed uncertainty about all the permutations If we are honest with ourselves I think we need to admit that neither are we as certain as we like to think Obedient always to past definitions and even while in force to current disciplines we need to grow in our capacity to revere the mystery This will inescapably diminish our tendency to rely too much on rules as if they provide the ultimate definition of faith I closed my earlier analysis as follows W e may have here a rather interesting specific example of the type I requested a few days ago when I wrote The Pope on Christian Humanism To understand we need concrete applications Is this an example of what Pope Francis means when he says the Church must transcend mere rules If so this example makes it clear that he does not mean the Church should transcend the principles of her Faith It is too soon to draw any conclusions about whether or how Catholic discipline on the Eucharist might change in the future I am not advocating anything other than the development of a stronger habit of study and meditation on the Faith with less reliance on instinctive shortcuts I certainly do not claim to have highlighted all the relevant considerations here But I suspect the stimulation of such a habit is the most positive aspect of this pope s unusual style of leadership To me Pope Francis has a remarkable ability to both annoy and prompt deeper reflection at one and the same time Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph D in intellectual history from Princeton University A co founder of Christendom College he also pioneered Catholic Internet services He is the founder of Trinity Communications and CatholicCulture org See full bio Read more from In Depth Analysis Next post Previous post Sound Off CatholicCulture org supporters weigh in All comments are moderated To lighten our editing burden only current donors are allowed to Sound Off If you are a donor log in to see the comment form otherwise please support our work and Sound Off Show 16 Comments Hidden Hide Comments Posted by DrJazz Nov 24 2015 4 52 PM ET USA The ignorance of Lutheran beliefs expressed in some comments is truly astounding Lutherans do not teach the same doctrine about Communion as other Protestants Contrary to one of the comments the Lutheran term consubstantiation most certainly does indicate that the Lord is present in the Eucharist Dr Mirus explained it in his original Nov 16 article He also wrote that there is an enormous problem with the term for Catholics When debating fine

    Original URL path: http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/articles.cfm?id=659 (2016-02-11)
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  • The Pope on Christian Humanism: To understand, we need concrete applications. | Catholic Culture
    both errors are damnable The problem is that Pope Francis is typically short on particular applications which just might provide a more precise indication of what he means But Francis vagueness may be studied Surely it is not insignificant that the Pope exclaimed to the assembled bishops But then you will ask what must we do What is the Pope asking of us It is up to you to decide people and pastor together And I invite you again simply to contemplate the Ecce Homo above us I ask the bishops to be pastors he answers Nothing more pastors The Holy Father concludes I would like a restless Italian Church ever closer to the abandoned the forgotten the imperfect I wish for a joyful Church with the face of a mother who understands accompanies and caresses May you too dream of this Church believe in her innovate freely To fully understand I need more I do not want the Pope to encourage the bishops as if he is always afraid they are one step away from throwing the Baby out with the bathwater Properly understood we should all wish for a joyful and a tender Church But the risk is that we may accompany the sinner and innovate so freely that we feel unbound even by the very things Our Lord and Savior came to reveal The God Man did not claim only to be the life which we all find easy to accept but also the way and the truth Separated all three qualities disappear Truly innovation is essential We should always be seeking new creative ways of involving ourselves in the lives of others so that they can accept an invitation to their ultimate happiness Who can doubt for example that new ways of ministering to the divorced and remarried are needed ways which avoid ignoring them as if they really are not present among us But as the Synod emphasized the greatest purpose of our interaction with others is always to assist them in relating to the Incarnate Lord and discerning a key word His holy will This and this only without fudging or contradiction is our key to happiness So has the Pope given sound advice Undoubtedly The question is whether he has given advice we do not have to be already perfect to follow Any of us can listen to Francis and find a wonderful spiritual application to our own tendencies so that we might grow more available at once to both Christ and our neighbors In some ways each of us is too comfortable with the essential irrelevance imposed by the constraints of modern secularism Here I raise my own hand But we can succeed in the dynamic creativity envisioned by Pope Francis only if we are well formed and truly responsive to the promptings of the Spirit One would very much like to think that all priests religious and bishops are sound enough spiritually to undertake bold and creative pastoral ministries Those who

    Original URL path: http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/articles.cfm?id=658 (2016-02-11)
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  • Catholicism and Evolution: not so compatible after all? | Catholic Culture
    have in their eager support for evolution glossed over a number of difficulties presented by the Catholic philosophical and theological traditions However fairly consistently he makes his sources say more than they actually say against evolution or gives them greater teaching authority than they actually have The Pontifical Biblical Commission Take for example what would seem to be one of Chaberek s strongest anti evolution sources a series of responsa or replies made regarding questions of scriptural interpretation by the Pontifical Biblical Commission between 1905 and 1909 Some of the responsa dealt with issues of historical and textual criticism more generally and one dealt specifically with the first three chapters of Genesis The responsum on Genesis stated that it was not admissible to claim that these chapters are not historical narratives but less literal forms such as allegories and symbols lacking a foundation in objective reality given under the appearance of history in order to inculcate proposed religious and philosophical truths or legends partly historical and partly fictitious freely composed for the instruction and edification of souls It further listed specific things the literal historical sense of which cannot be called into question These included the special creation of man meaning man was created by God directly and not by secondary causes and the formation of the first woman out of the first man These statements by the PBC seem clearly to rule out the possibility of the evolution of the human body though Chaberek strangely contradicts himself here After detailing the contents of the responsa he states that they pose a great difficulty for the theistic theory of evolution although as it turns out not an insurmountable obstacle Five pages later though he states The principle of historical and literal exegesis applied to the origin of species and mankind has caused insurmountable obstacles for the theistic theory of evolution At any rate the question is not whether the responsa can be interpreted to admit of theistic evolution I believe Chaberek is right that they cannot but what sort of authority the PBC s decrees carry As Chaberek details the PBC was established by Pope Leo XIII in 1902 in the Apostolic Letter Vigilantiae Studiique In 1907 Pope Pius X issued the motu proprio Praestantia Scripturae Sacrae making the PBC in Cardinal Ratzinger s words an organ of the teaching office of the Magisterium a status which it retained until 1971 when Pope Paul VI reorganized it and demoted it to a mere body of scholars enjoying the confidence of the Magisterium Chaberek quotes Pius X We do now declare and expressly prescribe that all are bound in conscience to submit to the decisions of the Biblical Commission which have been given in the past and which shall be given in the future in the same way as to the Decrees which appertain to doctrine issued by the Sacred Congregations and approved by the Sovereign Pontiff Chaberek claims that because of this the PBC s pronouncements between 1907 and 1971 including those mentioned above had doctrinal value and were binding They were certainly binding in some sense yet the exact nature of the PBC s authority is still debated today When reading the quote according to Chaberek s interpretation what strikes me as strange is the idea of a Pope giving full doctrinal authority to an indefinite number of statements which have not even been written yet Such a grant of authority would as far as I know have been completely unprecedented in the Church s history indeed it is questionable whether the Pope can grant binding doctrinal authority to statements he has not read and the content of which he is wholly ignorant for the simple reason that they do not yet exist The question arises then whether the submission required by Praestantia Scripturae Sacrae is not of a disciplinary sort Were the decrees of the PBC meant to be binding on faith or simply on obedience If one is bound in conscience to submit does that require one s assent or simply non contradiction Pius X wrote that one must submit in the same way as to the Decrees issued by the Sacred Congregations and approved by the Sovereign Pontiff Yet the decrees of the Church s various congregations are not infallible even when approved by the Pope Furthermore Chaberek omits to quote the latter half of the sentence Pius X continued nor can all those escape the note of disobedience or temerity and consequently of grave sin who in speech or writing contradict such decisions and this besides the scandal they give and the other reasons for which they may be responsible before God for other temerities and errors which generally go with such contradictions This certainly adds to the impression that the submission required was one of obedience not of faith Pius X sternly warns against disobedience or temerity not heresy Further he warns against the errors which generally go with such contradictions which seems to indicate that if disobeying by contradicting the PBC s decrees was gravely sinful such contradictions were not in themselves necessarily doctrinally erroneous It is likely then that the authority given to the PBC was not such as to settle doctrinal questions definitively but to restrict the scope of a debate and of certain historical critical methods that running wild at the time were a serious danger to the faith of many An instructive parallel is the debates that raged for centuries over the Immaculate Conception which became so furious that in 1483 Pope Sixtus IV published a constitution excommunicating anyone on either side of the debate who charged the other side with heresy St Pius V later forbade all public discussion of the subject whatsoever The Catholic Encyclopedia further tells us Paul V 1617 decreed that no one should dare to teach publicly that Mary was conceived in original sin and Gregory XV 1622 imposed absolute silence in scriptis et sermonibus etiam privatis upon the adversaries of the doctrine until

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  • Church Fathers: Clement of Alexandria, Part II | Catholic Culture
    work is variously called grace and illumination and perfection and washing washing by which we cleanse away our sins grace by which the penalties accruing to transgressions are remitted and illumination by which that holy light of salvation is beheld that is by which we see God clearly Now we call that perfect which wants nothing For what is yet wanting to him who knows God For it were truly monstrous that that which is not complete should be called a gift or act of God s grace Instructor 1 6 Eucharist Clement does not believe in sacrifices in the old bloody sense and at one point describes the sacrifice of the Church thus The sacrifice of the Church is the word breathing as incense from holy souls the sacrifice and the whole mind being at the same time unveiled to God Strom 7 6 However we ought not conclude from this passage that he does not recognize the Eucharist to be the everlasting sacrifice of the New Covenant Because he condemns heretical sects for using water instead of wine in the oblation not according to the canon of the Church Strom 1 19 it is clear that he recognizes a Eucharistic sacrifice of the Church Indeed he also refers to the sacrifice of Melchizedek as prefiguring the Eucharist and describes it as food by which Christ is enshrined in our souls Instructor 1 6 Finally he writes thus The blood of the Lord is twofold For there is the blood of His flesh by which we are redeemed from corruption and the spiritual that by which we are anointed And to drink the blood of Jesus is to become partaker of the Lord s immortality the Spirit being the energetic principle of the Word as blood is of flesh Accordingly as wine is blended with water so is the Spirit with man And the one the mixture of wine and water nourishes to faith while the other the Spirit conducts to immortality And the mixture of both of the water and of the Word is called Eucharist renowned and glorious grace and they who by faith partake of it are sanctified both in body and soul Instructor 2 2 Sin and Penance Clement s idea of original sin is faulty since he believes that it was inherited not through generation but through Adam s bad example For Clement as Quasten writes only a personal act can stain the soul The scholar continues His conception resulted most likely from a reaction to the Gnostics who held matter responsible for wrong p 31 In his discussion of punishment for sins he follows Plato in giving it a solely purgative and corrective purpose but does not say anywhere that he applies this concept to hell Like Hermas he says that there should only be one repentance of sins before baptism because after one has been forgiven one should not sin again However God who foresaw both the fickleness of man and the

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